Baby finalist in beach contest

Ava Anderson is a miracle baby.

That's what her parents, Alicia and Matt, will tell you.

Alicia, 28, and Matt, 31, both of Lincolnton, unsuccessfully tried to become parents for two years before Ava was born in September 2009.

The proud parents were blessed with a baby girl who is not only healthy, but worthy of a magazine cover, according to Oak Island Accommodations.

Ava, now 16 months old, is one of eight children who are finalists to appear on the cover of the 2011 Beach Times magazine.

Alicia and Matt snapped a picture of Ava at Oak Island beach this summer — Ava's first trip to the seashore.

"We were just proud parents," Matt said. "We snapped the picture and just sent it in."

That was in June. Alicia and Matt didn't think anything about the contest or the photo of Ava wearing a pink and black swimsuit, oversized sunglasses and a floppy beach hat.

And when the couple received word that Ava's picture was selected as finalist from more that 1,000 entries, they were both shocked and excited. The entries were narrowed down to 60 finalists, and now Ava is among the final eight contestants.

Ava being a finalist in the competition is the cherry on top of the sundae for Ava and Matt, who wondered for years if they could be parents.

"We didn't know if we'd ever be able to conceive on our own," Alicia said. "She's just our little miracle."

The Andersons, who are Catawba County natives, went to the Reproductive Endocrinology Associates of Charlotte (REACH) for help conceiving Ava.

Alicia and Matt are graduates of Bandys High School, where they were friends first before they started dating.

Alicia also works in Catawba County as a kindergarten teacher at Balls Creek Elementary School. She said she enjoys teaching students who are children of her former classmates at Bandys High School.

Alicia and Matt said their daughter is a "girly girl" who loves caring for her dolls.

"She's very girly and affectionate," Alicia said. "She's also very energetic."

People can vote for Ava's picture by going to Oak Island Accommodations' Facebook page, "liking" the page, then "liking" Ava's picture, which is listed under the page's photos.

The winner, in addition to being on the cover of Beach Times magazine, gets a two-day weekend trip to Oak Island. The deadline for the contest is Feb. 28.

"I think it would be great to show her kids (the magazine cover) one day," Matt said. "It would be neat for them to see that."

The Andersons are expecting their second child this summer, so Ava can add "big sister" to her list of accomplishments, right after "cover girl."

To vote for Ava's picture, go to!/OakIslandAccommodations.

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